Jennifer Garner stars in the new family movie, Nine Lives, in theaters Friday, August 5th. I recently had the opportunity to join in on a group phone interview with Jennifer Garner. Our family includes two fun and feisty cats, so I was eager to hear her thoughts on what it was like to film with cats.
In Nine lives, Tom Brand (Kevin Spacey) is a daredevil billionaire at the top of his game. His eponymous company FireBrand is nearing completion on its greatest achievement to date – the tallest skyscraper in the northern hemisphere. But Tom’s workaholic lifestyle has disconnected him from his family, particularly his beautiful wife Lara (Jennifer Garner) and his adoring daughter Rebecca (Malina Weissman).
Rebecca’s 11th birthday is here, and she wants the gift she wants every year, a cat. Tom hates cats, but he is without a gift and time is running out. His GPS directs him to a mystical pet store brimming with odd and exotic cats- where the store’s eccentric owner- Felix Perkins (Christopher Walken), presents him with a majestic tomcat, named Mr. Fuzzypants.
En route to present his daughter with her dream pet, a bizarre turn of events finds Tom trapped inside the body of Mr. Fuzzypants. Adopted by his own family, he begins to experience what life is truly like for the family pet, and as a cat, Tom begins to see his family and his life through a new and unexpected perspective. Meanwhile, his family adjusts to life with an odd and stubborn cat, and his son David (Robbie Amell), steps up in ways Tom never expected.
If any hope exists of returning to his family as the husband and father they deserve, Tom will have to learn why he has been placed in this peculiar situation and the great lengths he must go to earn back his human existence.
This was my second time participating in an interview with Jennifer Garner, and both times she could not have been nicer. Totally down to earth, and genuine. Also, very generous with her time. You can read the highlights of our phone interview below.
I asked Jennifer what she hopes movie goers will take away from the film.
This movie proves to be a fun family experience. It’s not an animated movie. It’s not a realistic movie. It’s just a fun family, all ages, kind of silly movie. I hope kids are introduced to the brilliance of Christopher Walken and that all of Kevin Spacey’s fans have fun seeing President Underwood as a cat. And then, I really hope that it’s just a gentle reminder that the best gift we can give each other is time.
On working with the cats.
It was very funny. You’re working so much with the animal handlers, which I had done some of, I’m sure. I mean I had definitely had–but, never to this extent. And just all that is done to keep the cats focused, in a good mood, happy, looking camera ready, they are definitely the star and the diva. And they are the center of the universe when they’re on set.
I’d be getting a touch up, and they’d say, “Jennifer, Fuzzypants is ready!” And I’d say, “Okay, I’ll be right there!” And we’d all hurry because Fuzzypants was in a better mood.
We would do things like safety pin chicken, safety pin chicken onto Mark’s pants so the cat would jump to his crotch and then jump up to his shoulder.
So, he had chicken safety pinned all over his body, and he had to wear protective covering for himself because he was about to have a cat jumping onto his skin and holding on with its claws.
On Balancing work and family.
Oh, my gosh. Like, a total day-by-day disaster. I mean it is super complicated. There’s no other way to say it, and I think the biggest thing to learn, and only time really could teach me, is that there is not going to be a perfect balance. And even when you’re home all day with your kids, you can’t be everything to everyone all the time if you have more than one child.
Eventually, you have to stop and whatever, make dinner, or eventually you have to deal with another child. The pie can only be cut into slices that are so small. So, I took the summer off because last summer I worked. And I really just wanted to be home. And I’m lucky that my job lets me do that. But, even when I’m off, the day’s still left with, oh, would you mind, or could you have a meeting, it’s a job. So, it kind of never stops. And I just do my best. I do my best. Really, for me, bedtime is sacred. Reading is sacred. And other than that, if I get a phone call in the middle of dinner, sometimes I have to step out and take it. So, that can’t always be sacred to me. You have to pick and choose what you can do and what you have to say this isn’t going to be perfect, guys. I’m doing my best here.
On her favorite scenes in the movie.
There’s so many that I loved. I loved working with Malina [Weissman]. She and I became really close. She’s such a sweet girl. And so, any time it was just the two of us, I was particularly happy. And I also loved when Cheryl Hines was on set because she was so deliciously evil. And that body never stops. So, I just like would look at her in her little skirt and heels and be like how is that possible? But we had a good time when she there, and we were kind of chasing the cat around. And I didn’t get to work with Kevin Spacey very much because a lot of time, you know, he’s a cat. So, I’m really happy for the time that I had with him.
On how she first became involved with Nine lives.
I was sent the script, and I spoke to Barry Sonnenfeld on the phone. And he’s the most likable human being on the planet. I mean people work for him again and again and again. Like, look at how many movies Will Smith has made with him, from all the Men in Black movies to Wild Wild West to I feel like there are even more. But, to know him is to love him, and he promised me that they would look after me, that he and his wife would spoil me, and they did. So, it was really the conversation with Barry that convinced me that I had to do the film.
On the scenes that made her laugh.
Kevin’s voiceover as the cat is so funny to me, just his kind of dry sense of humor. And also, Christopher Walken is so quiet when you’re acting with him. You can’t really tell what he’s doing. And when he turns around and whispers to the cat, he’s like, “Listen, Fuzzypants.” that really had me laughing. So, I would say those are the things that made me laugh after the fact just watching the film.
On taking the mom roles.
I mean it’s the most rich time in all of our lives, right? We have the most emotions at play for ourselves, for our kids. We have the most fun. We’re back in tune with our own childhood or our own sense of imagination and fun and silliness. And so, I really like playing a mom. Plus, I get to work with these kids, and that just makes the day fun. I’m having a great time getting to know the next generation of actors, and, yes, all around, thumbs up on mom roles.
Nine Lives, in theaters August 5th!
Don’t be the scaredy-cat in your family! ?Nine Lives opens in theaters this Friday. Get your tickets: http://ninelivesmovie.com/tickets/